Keira: How did you first come up with Lessons After Dark?
Isabel Cooper: The end of No Proper Lady was really what started it. The natural course for Simon and Joan seemed to be making sure that the world could defend itself from future threats, which meant training agents—so I was pretty sure that any sequel would involve a school. I always liked school stories, anyhow.
Gareth and Olivia, in specific, came from my desire to write a hero and heroine who started out not liking each other, and to provide a good reason for that.
Keira: What happens when a supernatural talent for healing fails to heal the supernatural?
IC: That depends a lot on the situation: how strong the healing talent is, what sort of condition the person’s trying to heal, and so on. Gareth’s particular talent tends to draw on his own life force, so he can fail to heal even a non-supernatural wound just by not having enough energy. Diseases fight back to some extent, which can be nasty—and supernatural injuries or diseases are often even worse, since some of them have some kind of primitive “mind” of their own. Failure to heal that sort of thing can have serious consequences for the would-be healer—or anything else around, sometimes.
Keira: There are elements of fake magic and real magic in Lessons After Dark, what made you decide to include both?
IC: I’d already set up a world with real magic in No Proper Lady, and I naturally wanted to continue with that. But, since not everyone knows how to do real magic, some of the people out there have to be faking it for their own reasons. I wanted to show that the real presence of something doesn’t mean fake versions aren’t out there, and vice versa—I also had learned a lot of interesting stuff about fake mediums during my research, and wanted to work with that information. Plus, working with the false information seemed like a good way to accidentally find out about the real stuff.
Keira: Do the school children bring together the Doctor and the Teacher or help drive them apart?
IC: A bit of both, sometimes!
On the one hand, having five adolescents around is going to put a damper on even the most active love life—and Englefield’s students can get into even more trouble than most teenagers, which is saying something. There are a lot of interruptions. I also don’t think Gareth would have gotten his back up quite as much over Olivia’s background if she hadn’t been working with the students: he’s got that whole Victorian thing about role models and setting a good example and so forth.
On the other hand, the aforementioned trouble that the kids cause means that Gareth and Olivia can’t avoid or ignore one another—they have to work together, which breaks down a lot of barriers over time. And after they’ve seen each other in action a few times, each of them has to admit that the other has the students’ best interest at heart, which goes a long way toward changing their initial mistrust.
Keira: How do you define (romantic) love?
IC: Just the right mix of friendship, admiration, and lust. There’s a complicated sort of alchemy here. For me personally, realizing I’m in love with someone has always been a lot like realizing I have gum in my hair—a messy situation that’s going to be hell to get out of—but I try to keep it more positive for my heroes and heroines.
Keira: What's harder to keep alive and maintain: romance or houseplants?
IC: Romance, definitely. If guys just needed direct sun and water once a day, my college relationships would’ve lasted way longer.
Keira: What projects are you working on next?
IC: My next book is Curious Affairs at Midnight, and will be in stores in December 2012. Charlotte Woodwell—now a full-fledged Englefield agent—teams up with a government spy to track down a missing kid with unnerving powers. There are road trips, evil cultists, and a surly hedgehog.
LESSONS AFTER DARK BY ISABEL COOPER – IN STORES APRIL 2012
A woman with an unspeakable past…
Olivia Brightmore didn't know what to expect when she took a position to teach at Englefiend School, an academy for "gifted" children. But it wasn't having to rescue a young girl who levitated to the ceiling. Or battling a dark mystery in the surrounding woods. And nothing could have prepared her for Dr. Gareth St. John...
A man with exceptional talent…
He knew all about her history and scrutinized her every move because of it. But there was more than suspicion lurking in those luscious green eyes. Even with all the strange occurrences at the school, the most unsettling of all is the attraction pulling Olivia and Gareth together with a force that cannot be denied.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Critically acclaimed author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston with her boyfriend and a houseplant she’s kept alive for over a year now. She maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing; all the while, she’s writing dark, edgy and magical romance novels. Her debut novel, No Proper Lady, was named a 2011 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year in the romance category, a 2011 Library Journal Best Romance of the Year and received an RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence for the month of September 2011. For more information, please visit http://www.isabelcooper.org.
GIVEAWAY: 2 copies of Lessons After Dark. Open to US and Canada only. Enter by leaving a comment or question for Isabel. Last day to enter: April 27, 2012.